Monday, September 23

A Good Woman

Charles and I have been married for over a year now and I have begun noticing things.
Odd things.
Strange things I do or say that I DEFinitely did NOT do before we got married.
Sorry for yelling.

If you know me then you know that I am no stranger to child labor, and parental overuse of it.  (Please allow exhibit A: Raking leaves intheSNOW, for review).  Because of this, I would rather pick up and toss 243,000 square bales of hay, onto a flatbed trailer intheSNOW, than mow  Like, ever. 
That may sound extreme, but when you have to mow your parents yard, the various barn lots, the homes for employees AND thesideoftheEVERLOVINroad, you get burnt out.  Savvy?

And then you get married....
Not having to mow anymore is a fine reason to get married.  Just ask Caden!
Me: I abhor mowing.
Caden: Wait, isn't that why you got married?
Top of his class, that one.

But really, I have mowed twice TWICE in the past two weeks.  Why?  Couldn't tell ya.
I'm chalking it up to "Because I'm a good woman".
Don't laugh.

Other than mowing, I find myself thinking strange thoughts like, we could really use a sideboard in the breakfast area.
A sideboard?!
The 'carefree kid' inside of me dies a little each time I type "SIDEBOARD" into the Craigslist search box.
Here I am looking for decorative furniture pieces to stub my toe on, while Chuck peruses theater seats for the Man Cave.
AND I mowed.

It's alright, he still kills bugs for me.  I tell ya, I can hear a bug move a-n-y-where in the house.  I also heard a tree fall in the woods last week.  Basically what I am saying is I'm magic.
But only when it's not convenient, like when the grass grows or when I can't find my grocery list and am at the check-out (after buying 34 things I didn't need) and I open my wallet, when out pops the list.

I mow, search endlessly for home decor, cry inside when the men of the house come in the front door and DON'T wipe their feet.
OK, maybe I'm not magic.

Maybe I'm just a good woman.

...but the tree really made a sound.


Saturday, September 21

Peachy-Shortbread Bars

First of all, please forgive the terrible picture. I mean really?
But trust, read the ingredients, and trust.
I created these bars yesterday, quite unexpectedly, and in response to an impromptu grocery store trip. I went in for quinoa, and came out with quinoa, peanut butter(cuz you can NEVER have too much), butter(ditto) and the most beautiful peaches I have ever purchased. For real. They made it into my basket after a drive-by squeezing. Ya know, when you walk through the produce and haphazardly start grabbing fruit to tell if its worthy of purchase. I spotted these glorious bright yellow "South Carolina" peaches first, and gave them a squeeze only to discover that they were hard as a rock. I wrinkled my nose and made a "ugh, figures" face....because I am a food snob like that. Out of the corner of my eye I caught a display, furthest from the produce mind you, exhibiting pretty plums and huge, juicy looking peaches. I buzzed straight over, grabbed one, perfect, and immediately began filling my bag. No clue what I was going to make, but I knew I could figure something out once I got home.
My first thought was pie! Of course! But then I remembered that not only am I a food snob who prefers to make her own crust, I am a brat who didn't feel like waiting for dough to chill. Just the facts. Then my mind wandered to bars! Yes, bars! Chuck loves anything in bar form, brownies, cookie cakes, cheesecake bars, etc. So that's settled, I was making bars. I started perusing recipes from some of my favorite bloggers and didn't find anything that really spoke to me. Ugh. So what's a girl with pounds of peaches to do? Make one up!
They had to have a great crust, so I decided on a thick shortbread recipe. Thick, cuz I love me some crust. I could just eat crust. I don't need any filling, just crust people. I wanted to make the topping more like a crisp, so I came up with a wonderfully nutty cover to accent the beautiful peaches. Enjoy!

Yield: 1 9x13 pan....quite a few servings depending on how you slice it! Not that hungry? Half it and bake it in a 9x9 square pan...or cake pan..whatever you have!

Shortbread Crust:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 cup granulated sugar
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1 cup (2 sticks) unsalted butter, cold, cut into tablespoons
1 egg, lightly beaten

Peach Filling:
6 cups diced, peeled peaches.(Mine where really big, and each one made 1 cup when diced.)
1 tablespoon cornstarch
1/2 cup granulated sugar pinch salt
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon grated nutmeg

1/2 cup unsalted butter, softened at room temperature for 1 hour
1 cup old-fashioned oats
1/2 cup flour
1 cup pecans, finely chopped
1/4 teaspoon cinnamon pinch salt
1/4 teaspoon grated nutmeg

3/4 cup powdered sugar
1/2 teaspoon maple extract
1-2 tablespoons milk

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit, and coat a 13x9 inch baking dish with cooking spray.
For the crust: In the bowl of a food processor, combine the first 4 crust ingredients. Pulse a few times until everything is mixed. With the food processor on, start dropping the cold butter in, one tablespoon at a time, until the butter has incorporated. Add the egg and pulse until the mixture resembles sand. Pour the crust into the prepared pan, covering the bottom, and press to make it uniform. Place in the fridge to chill about 30 minutes while you prepare the peaches. Note: if you don't have a food processor, you can easily use a pastry cutter, or your fingers.
For the filling: Place peeled, diced peaches in a bowl, and add all other ingredients. Toss to coat. Pour the filling mixture over the crust, and use a spatula to create an even layer. For the topping: If you used a food processor for the crust, simply wipe it out, and use it again for this step. If you did not, then a pastry cutter or your fingers should work fine. In the bowl of the food processor, combine; oats, flour, pecans, cinnamon, salt and nutmeg. Pulse to incorporate. Add the butter, one tablespoon at a time, pulsing after each addition. It should look rather clumpy. Cover the peach filling with the oat topping. Clumps are great! It doesn't have to be perfectly is actually better when it's not:). Place in the oven, middle rack, and cook for 40-45 minutes.
I used a dark, ceramic baking dish, and it took all 45. If you are using metal or glass it may not take as long. Once the top is lightly browned it should be good to go!

Make the glaze:
In a medium mixing bowl, add the maple extract to the powdered sugar and stir it in. Then, working one teaspoon at a time, start whisking in milk until you achieve "drizzle" consistency. Too thin? Add more sugar. Too thick? Add more milk.
Cool on wire rack for an hour, then in the fridge for at least 30 minutes before slicing.

Friday, September 20

The Glory of Greenback

Country music lyrics have often described "small town USA" in such vivid ways, that we often long for "simpler", "slower" living.  Ballads about small country towns where there is one main street, high school football games leave no soul at home, and if you're not at the corner diner for lunch, then you're as good as missing. 
I grew up on the outskirts of Greenback, we were more or less considered by the locals to be in a different city to be honest.  Though I did grow up on a farm, my siblings and I didn't attend Greenback high school, nor did we grace the halls of the Church downtown on Sunday.  We were regulars at the Co-op, but never warmed a stool in the diner.  We always joked that the Christmas parade that ran through downtown Greenback, "starts at 9:00am and ends at 9:02am".  Outsiders, really. 
Though I did travel the streets and was familiar with the layout, until I began working in Greenback daily, I hadn't really "discovered" what it had to offer. Since July this small town has become near and dear to my heart.  I have been rolling this post around in my head for quite some time, and I thought it was about time to bring it out.  Be forewarned, after reading you may find yourself staring out the window, looking for a change of pace.

Imagine, if you will, a town so small it doesn't even have a Wal-Mart.  Actually, no grocery either.  The closest you might get to a place like that would be the Co-op.  There you will find anything you need to build a bull-proof fence, feminine gardening gloves, a sturdy pair of overalls and enough house-cleaning supplies to keep the kids busy for a while.  If you're not sold yet, come on down the road into town, but beware the fastest a tractor will go will determine your arrival time.  
When you reach the flashing light, and stop sign, hang a left into the middle of town. The busiest time of day is 7:30-8:00 am.  School time.  You want to be sure to come at this time though, or else you will miss this...


At the old train depot, is where you will find this man.  He sits, holding the Bible and a microphone, and preaches aloud for the town and any passers-by to hear.   As the sun is stretching its golden fingers into the middle of town, so is The Word.  He stays until around 8:30, packs his things up and leaves, however in his place you will always find his black metal chair with scripture written on it.  If you really try you can make out the words, "God Has Blessed Greenback" on the sign behind him.  I can only imagine what it's like to wake up and hear The Word outside my window.

It is around this same time, once all of the kids are in school(it's k-12), that you get a whiff of the familiar smell of bacon frying up.  You're in luck, just across the street sits the Greenback Diner with crispy bacon ready and fresh coffee brewing.

On any day but Monday (when they are closed) that's exactly where you will find everyone, if not at breakfast then definitely at lunch. The diner sits beside the Greenback Museum, and across the street from the (always busy) Post Office.
If you are in need of some retail therapy look no further than...

Gently used, "nearly new" children's items as well as home goods can be found here.  On nice days the doors are left open and lovely furniture pieces as well as bicycles are outside for display. 
Proof of stores that have come and gone are hard to miss and sit empty, waiting for a resurgence.

Maybe one day.
For now, members of the community will gather at the Community Center for dances, craft shows, Girl Scouts and meetings.  They will attend the game on Friday nights, and caravan to those away.  The cows will still outnumber the people, and the weather, as it relates to the hay crop, will be the hot topic at the Co-op.  
Indeed, God has blessed Greenback.